Anyone with even a passing interest in PC technology will know all about the ongoing battle between graphics giants ATI and nVidia. These two companies have played a game of leapfrog for the past few years in the quest for dominance in the 3D graphics market. But back in July nVidia didnâ€™t just steal the ball, it ran right out of the stadium with it, leaving ATI stuck with an aging product that lacked the latest features.
Of course we all knew that ATI had something waiting in the wings, itâ€™s just that we expected to have seen it a long time ago. But now, finally, the Radeon X1800 has broken cover and some competition can be injected back into the 3D graphics arena.
ATI was keen to make a big splash with its new technology, and invited journalist from pretty much every technology publication in Europe out to Ibiza for the launch. With hardware on hand, journalist were invited to bring their own test rigs with them in order to get comparative numbers. So I stuffed our trusty MSI K8N Platinum motherboard into my bag, along with an AMD Athlon 64 FX55, 1GB of Crucial Ballistix memory and a Maxtor 16MB cache SATA hard disk, and headed off to the airport.
Now I get the feeling that just about everyone I mention this trip to thinks that I have the best job in the world â€“ having a company fly you out to Ibiza on closing weekend sounds great. However, what these people miss is that I spent an entire Saturday in a darkened room listening to technology briefings, while spending most of the Sunday in another dark room running benchmarks. OK, to give ATI some credit, we were let off the leash to spend the whole of Saturday night at one of the islandâ€™s top clubs, but this weekend really was about work â€“ I promise.
ATI rounded up some big guns for this launch, kicking off with Rich Heye â€“ Vice President and GM, Desktop Business Unit. The best ATI techno-geeks were also on show, with old favourite Richard Huddy topping the bill. With everyone singing from the same hymn sheet, the general message was that the Radeon X1000 series of cards will be a major step forward in 3D graphics. Yep, thatâ€™s right, ATI was talking about the launch of a whole family of cards, not just the X1800 range. Iâ€™m only covering the X1800 here, but expect a rundown of the X1600 and X1300 very soon - ATI gave me samples of both cards before packing me off to the airport.